Monday, August 15, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now? - Part 2 - What I Would Say at The Agudah Convention!


The first, last and only time I attended a convention sponsored by the Agudath Israel, is when it took place at the Pioneer Country Club in upstate New York; the brilliant accountants that are here tonight I'm certain can tell you how long ago that was without taking off their socks.

I was a bochur, just turning eighteen at the time, I looked forward to spending Shabbos in the presence of my rosh yeshiva, and a few classmates from yeshiva that were also Pirchei leaders. I did not know what to expect, and indeed it was a disappointing display by the "esteemed" baalei batim of their new cars, their wives' jewelry and designer clothes. Single girls of marriageable age were being hawked off to the would be shadchanim and parents of eligible boys. For the most part, bochurim of marriageable age were not invited. Food was being gulped down by the pound and by the cow, and the waiters were sweating bullets keeping up with the crowd. At breakfast on Friday, one behaimishe baal habayis tells his waiter, " I vant an omelette mit ah dozen - 12 eggs, fried on baider zeiten, and if it's 11 eggs, I'll know -- hahaha". Putz! We kids were sitting at the entrance to the kitchen as the waiter rushes in to tell his story. Ugly I tell you, stuff that stays with you for a lifetime.

I swore I'd never go back, and never did.

Rabbi Joshua Silbermintz a"h (aka Josh - a name that I would never call him by), asked me at the third Shabbos meal (shalosh seudas)...if I would please speak to the assembly about the importance of Pirchei; the second scheduled speaker took ill. He gave me 10 minutes to Shir Ha'maalot.

As Moshe Sherer taught, never begin your speech with " I'm not really prepared", so I stood up and blurted out what came to my mind, that's been on my mind since my very brief stint as a Pirchei leader.

".... Parents - what we must all learn from the Avos and Imahos - our patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov and their rebbetzins --- is the sacrifices and love showed to their children. Avraham Avinu was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice with Yitzchak -- and the Torah goes out of its way to describe the love Yitzchak and Yaakov, Rivkah, Leah and Rachel had for their children. I quoted the relevant psukim and Rashi to a now attentive crowd. I continued... Many or most of you here tonight are survivors, you know the meaning of heartache. I went on now... raising the pitch of my voice (I was a quick learner); you have an obligation to teach your children that sleeping Shabbos afternoon is not more important than the walking of your children to Pirchei and Bnos...leaving them hefker in the streets (in what was then a very safe Crown Heights). [Many kids wandered off to Lefferts Av. Park and to other unsupervised places,]... your childrens' safety is paramount. I beseech you to please pay heed to your childrens' physical and emotional safety. Thank you".

Nothing changed; I resigned my high-paying job.

And in all these years, parents trusted their kids to people that used their kids as "objects" - either making money off of them in their schools, summer camps, seminaries etc., and as we now know, that in every yeshiva and girls school, many kids were sexually, physically and emotionally abused by staff members, principals, teachers --- and these crimes were covered up by criminal circus midgets with long beards, like the ones sitting at your dais here tonight.

I look around this room and I know many of you; I find it incredible to believe that you are here showing support for this criminal enterprise. In effect, you have created "a race to the bottom" of what was once a beautiful heritage and tradition. Have you no shame? What will your legacy be, if not leaving the world a much worse place than how you found it? Your kids are ashamed of you --- and are voting with their souls, hearts and feet " out of here!"

Don't take my word for it! Did you read Mishpacha magazine? Who do you think you're kidding? They see through you! They know that there's not a darn thing about your lifestyle that they want to have anything to do with!

Hashem had sent His messenger to America in September 1913 to set up shop with a model that would work for American Jewry. And a model that was mostly foolproof until the end of time. Children were to be cared for and loved by how you educated them. They were to be first and foremost bnei Torah in all its glory. Being a mensch was not optional! They needed to spend most of their school day with model rebbes/humans... not some garbage can with a lid that the sanitation department would refuse to pick up!

They needed to be educated as proud Americans, with full knowledge of most every subject taught in American secular schools (at the time). They needed to understand that they would one day need to go out in the world and either be a proud supporter of Torah institutions, or become a member or founder of a Torah institution. There was no gray area;... in order to support Torah, you had to appreciate what you learned as a child. And you had to love it, not loathe or fear it! In order to "stay in chinuch" you had to excel in your abilities, in your emunah, in your middos, and wisdom of the printed Torah and its spirit. And that required that you had to give up the so-called good-life, "without ever having to say you're sorry!" There had to be mesiras nefesh, knowing that your ben Torah neighbor that has gone to work, may have a nicer car than you.

Look at you! Look at what you have become! Either felons, or felons that have not been caught yet!

You trusted your kids to lowlifes, degenerates and perverts! They'd sell you down the river in a second, the second you stopped giving them money, or not as much as they wanted from you! And then your kid would be out on the street too, because he "did not measure up"! Which guy at the dais here has to be concerned about mundane issues like paying their mortgage, or tuition? Do they even have a mortgage? Or was it paid off with your money combined with whatever they could steal from Uncle Sam?

So why are you here?

There was a reason that Dr. Joseph Kaminetzky was appointed the head of Torah Umesorah. He graduated from Columbia University and had the wisdom needed in every area of education, and was rightfully in charge of the curriculum in each and every Torah Umesorah affiliated school.

It was no coincidence that Dr. David Stern was selected as menahel/principal of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath. He too was a graduate of Columbia University and a rabbi at one of the early Young Israel synagogues.

And when Rabbi Alexander Linchner z"l left his position at Mesifta Torah Vodaath to focus full time on the building of Boys Town Jerusalem, he hired Rabbi Moshe Lonner PhD, to be the high school secular studies principal; with the same intent, gusto and spirit that his father in-law had in appointing Drs. Kaminetzky and Stern to their respective positions.

So how did we get here? What group of ignoramuses led us down this path of "the more ignorant, the more uneducated, the more dumb" -- the better? "Where are the lomdim?" an ultra-orthodox rabbi recently bellowed! Where are the Torah scholars?

What have you done to your kids and their kids?

Go back to the original model set up by Hakodesh Baruch Hu Himself; pick the few select students to toil in Torah, to stay in chinuch, and to be a model for your grandchildren. Get rid of the gangsters running the American yeshiva system and its affiliated organizations -- they have already destroyed two complete generations.